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March 2019 El Bochinche

Queridos PCPF Members,

March 1st marks 58th years since the creating of Peace Corps. For 58 years people of all ages have packed their bags, left their families and friends, and embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Some of us served in remote areas with no water and electricity, some of us in metropolitan cities, and some of us in times of civil unrest. Our challenges and victories may have been different but we all proudly say it is "the toughest job you'll ever love".

For me Peace Corps was a time of growth (voluntary and otherwise) and reflection. My community and fellow volunteers impacted my life in ways I could have not imagined and have shaped the person I am today. My first day in Panama I was a girl in heels and rolling luggage (polka dots with a bow..... I know) who had never hiked in her life nor thought much about environmental and social justice. I just wanted to help. Three years later I had read books that changed my life, introduced my family to outdoor recreation and the beautiful connection one can have with nature, and saw life with more humble and grateful eyes. Peace Corps is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I hope to make it again once I retire. How has your service shaped you and your life?

In this issue of el Bochinche we test your knowledge of Panama, help you find Peace Corps Week events in your area, and share the story of an RPCV who has found the second toughest job she'll ever love.

Happy Peace Corps Week everyone and thank you for doing your part in making this world a better place!



PCPF Updates

PCPF Grant

In the first quarter of 2019 PCPF is proud to support PCV Emma with her 110-Gallon Ferrocement Rain Water Tank Project. Emma is working with eight families who currently do not have access to the town aqueduct and could benefit from a source of water. Good luck Emma!

Amazon Smile

PCPF has received the first round of funds from Amazon Smile and would like to THANK ALL OF YOU for your support! Every dollar that goes towards volunteer projects counts. Please continue to use the PCPF link. This does not cost anything extra to you nor does it impact the items that you can purchase. Amazon will donate 0.5% of your total purchase to PCPF.

Board Elections

We are looking for enthusiastic, creative, and passionate candidates to help take PCPF to the next level. Whether you have years of experience or are looking to gain experience, you can be an asset to our organization.

All Executive Board positions are open starting February 2019. Learn more about what being a Board member entails and please submit your application using the Election Form. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at We are happy to chat and give you more information about the positions.

Did You Know?

Do you fancy yourself a Panama connoisseur? Let's test your knowledge! Did you know that the first European princes of afro-descendance was born in Bocal del Torro? Or that Panama is the first place outside of the U.S. where Coca Cola was sold? Check out these fun facts about our beloved Panama that might surprise you.

News From Panama

Llegaron los Carnavales!

Today kicks off the first night of Carnavales across Panama! Where did you celebrate Carnaval during your service? Enjoy reliving some of the memories here through footage from TVN.


Youth Baseball wrapped up it's season with Los Santos as the campeones. Follow the adult baseball season at here.

Esta plena esta pegao!

Do you find yourself reminiscing about the timeless songs of carnaval such as "Shortsito Blanco" or "La Barredora"? Do you wish you could keep up with the latest songs for this year's Carnavales? We got you! Get the latest plena y tipico here.

Peace Corps Panama Updates

Welcome G84!

Peace Corps Panama is proud to welcome the latest trainees to the Community Environmental Conservation (CEC) and Teaching English, Leadership, and Life Skills (TELLS) sectors! Saludos y suerte G84!

Want to see what todays PCVs are up to in the field? Follow them on social media on:

Happy Birthday Peace Corps!

Fifty eight years ago President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps and since more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

This year's celebration theme is "A day in the life...". Check out these short videos from the top five contenders and learn what a day in the life of a volunteer looks like in countries such as Guinea, Cambodia, and Guatemala. Do you notice similarities to your experience?

If you are interested in participating in events around the country, search the calendar of events and see if there are any gatherings in your area.

RPCV Spotlight: The 2nd Toughest Job I Will Love

by: Jessica Kovarik

Like Peace Corps service, my job overseeing refugee resettlement programming is one of the toughest jobs I will ever love!

Much of the time, my work with refugees is quite similar to my work as a volunteer in the Comarca Ngabe Bugle. I get by with A LOT of hand gestures. I don’t understand what is happening a good 75% of the time. Like my experience in Peace Corps Panama, especially as the Coffee Coordinator and GAD Coordinator, I get the pleasure of working to build the capacity of leaders who have the most fascinating of skills, backgrounds and stories. I am constantly pushing books on kids who eat them up like candy. And I get offered yummy treats when I visit clients’ homes. Most days my face hurts from smiling so much. I often feel like royalty, carpets have literally been laid down on floors to welcome me into homes. And nothing starts on time. Sound familiar?!

I, like I am sure most of you, can relate to newly arrived refugees or asylees. I know what it’s like to live somewhere where everything is new. Where even the simplest of tasks, like talking to your neighbor can feel daunting and intimidating. I know what it’s like to be lost. Really, really lost. I know what it’s like to feel frustrated as I use my nonnative tongue to communicate my thoughts, ideas, and needs. I know what it’s like to miss home, certain foods, my community, my family and my life.

One of my most treasured memories from a Refugee Youth Talen Show I organized, “Our Future is Bright” in Anchorage, Alaska.

That’s about where the similarities end. I don’t know what it’s like to have been targeted, persecuted, and forced to leave home. I leave home to open my eyes to new worlds, not because of the pain of what my vision holds. I don’t know what it’s like to have nowhere safe to go. I don’t know what it feels like to not be welcomed in a new place or what it’s like to not be able to return home. To say it must feel terrible is a huge understatement. So, I do what I can to welcome refugees and asylees to their new home. I support a team of the most compassionate and dedicated individuals who pick up families from the airport, bring them to their modest homes, get them connected to English, to school, who help them find jobs and begin to rebuild their lives. Our work is one that is supported by and dependent on the community- truly a labor of love.

How can you get involved and support our newest Americans with the same carismo that your Panamanian communities supported & welcomed you?! Resettlement agencies operate in every state and can always use support in the form of time, money and/or gently used items. If you are in the Denver/CO area or want to support from afar, our HOME program is a wonderful way to provide a warm welcome. You can also contact me directly at for other ideas. I love to entertain the wildest and most creative ways of showing your support @ the International Rescue Committee in Denver.

Jessica Kovarik

SAS RPCV, Panama 2010-2012


Third Goal Activities

Do you continue to be involved in projects in Panama? Are you sharing your Peace Corps experience with other? We would love to feature you in the RPCV spotlight! Please fill out this this  Google Form  and let us know about the wonderful work you are doing.


Looking for RPCV Career Support?

Check out the PC Headquarters Career Center online or in person to help support you in finding your perfect career path post-service. Check out their web resources here .

Considering Grad School?

As RPCVs we are eligible for life to apply for grad school financial support through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship. Find out more about participating universities and their respective programs here .


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